While switching channels to watch something entertaining to pass the time on the 22nd of September 2015, I stumbled upon a match between Wolfsburg and FC Bayern that was halfway through. Although I knew very little about football at the time, I knew that FC Bayern was a European powerhouse and that the underdog, Wolfsburg, was leading with a score of 1-0. I sat down to support the underdog. After that halftime, I witnessed one of the exceptional individual performances of all time, and that is when Phil Bonney stole from my heart and said, “You just cannot be that good.” Lewandowski has been a center of attraction for Bayern. Now seven years after that miraculous night, Lewandowski has left Bayern Munich. But would his farewell affect a powerhouse like Bayern Munich? They are one of the clubs which had a notable transfer window. They brought in Matthijs De Ligt, Ryan Gravenberch, Noussair Mazraoui and Sadio Mané. Would the new signings plunge the hole left by Robert Lewandowski?
De Ligt, the wonder boy from Ajax, had a great deal of expectation when he arrived at Allianz, but I guess it's safe to say that he has underperformed. It doesn't come as a surprise because Serie A demands a traditional centre-back which he wasn't familiar with at all. He is great at counter-pressing, aerial duels, and spreading the play. In Juventus, he has been error-prone and also overcommitting to his attacker. He is suitable for the high-pressing Bayern rather than Juventus. Bayern needs the De Ligt which was at Ajax, not at Juventus. The misfit at Juventus can be a perfect fit at the Allianz Arena.
Ajax’s Ryan Gravenberch has been a fixture in the transfer gossip columns over the past year and, Bayern Munich is the one to get his signature. As you can expect from Ajax’s midfielder, he is spatially aware, assured on the ball, and skillful. Under right defensive support, he can flourish, which I expect Bayern to deliver. If nobody gave him defensive support, I'm certain Thomas Müller would do. Gravenberch’s stats on ball-carrying assures that he could evolve as one of the best box-to-box midfielders.
Bayern seems to like Ajax a lot, and why wouldn’t they? They have signed one former Ajax player and two current Ajax players, the next one being Noussair Mazraoui. Inconsistent performances by Benjamin Pavard have damaged the right flank which exerted more load on the left flank. Hence a fresh signing of a right-back could help Bayern. He is quite efficient in playing the role of traditional or inverted fullback. Zeeshan's video on Bayern explains the utility of such ability, and to quote him, "Ek inverted full-back aur ek traditional wingback ki pairing, aur ek wingback and ek inside forward ki pairing is better than an inverted full-back with an inside forward and a traditional winger and a wingback.” In layman's terms, this is done to avoid player overload in one area and to assemble a squad of players in which each plays a certain role. Mazraoui has performed well in both traditional and inverted roles under Ten Hag, which is tremendous news for Bayern Munich. Bayern's reputation for transforming players is enough to cover his lack of physicality.
The potential of the last signing, Sadio Mané, is not something to be discussed. The attacking threat that he could bring in is general knowledge. The question is how Julian Nagelsmann would include him in his attacking arsenal. The reports suggest that he is planning to play Mane as false 9. The switch from a traditional striker to a false-9 can cause significant changes in the squad's tactical structure. But Bayern is privileged to have exceptional wingers to make the overlapping runs when Mané drops down. Thomas Müller, the Raumdeuter, could also be threatening in the spaces generated by Mané. They might face adversity, but their complete will to succeed would overcome their hardship. Because we all know it is, "Mia San Mia.” Can this Ajax batch do something special at Bayern? At the very least, the Bavarians hope so.
Possible Lineups for Bayern Munich 22/23: